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A co-design process developing heuristics for practitioners providing end of life care for people with dementia

Davies, N; Mathew, R; Wilcock, J; Manthorpe, J; Sampson, EL; Lamahewa, K; Iliffe, S; (2016) A co-design process developing heuristics for practitioners providing end of life care for people with dementia. BMC Palliative Care , 15 , Article 68. 10.1186/s12904-016-0146-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Background The end of life for someone with dementia can present many challenges for practitioners; such as, providing care if there are swallowing difficulties. This study aimed to develop a toolkit of heuristics (rules-of-thumb) to aid practitioners making end-of-life care decisions for people with dementia. Methods An iterative co-design approach was adopted using a literature review and qualitative methods, including; 1) qualitative interviews and focus groups with family carers and 2) focus groups with health and care professionals. Family carers were recruited from a national charity, purposively sampling those with experience of end-of-life care for a person with dementia. Health and care professionals were purposively sampled to include a broad range of expertise including; general practitioners, palliative care specialists, and geriatricians. A co-design group was established consisting of health and social care experts and family carers, to synthesise the findings from the qualitative work and produce a toolkit of heuristics to be tested in practice. Results Four broad areas were identified as requiring complex decisions at the end of life; 1) eating/swallowing difficulties, 2) agitation/restlessness, 3) ending life-sustaining treatment, and 4) providing “routine care” at the end of life. Each topic became a heuristic consisting of rules arranged into flowcharts. Eating/swallowing difficulties have three rules; ensuring eating/swallowing difficulties do not come as a surprise, considering if the situation is an emergency, and considering ‘comfort feeding’ only versus time-trialled artificial feeding. Agitation/restlessness encourages a holistic approach, considering the environment, physical causes, and the carer’s wellbeing. Ending life-sustaining treatment supports practitioners through a process of considering the benefits of treatment versus quality-of-life and comfort. Finally, a heuristic on providing routine care such as bathing, prompts practitioners to consider adapting the delivery of care, in order to promote comfort and dignity at the end of life. Conclusions The heuristics are easy to use and remember, offering a novel approach to decision making for dementia end-of-life care. They have the potential to be used alongside existing end-of-life care recommendations, adding more readily available practical assistance. This is the first study to synthesise experience and existing evidence into easy-to-use heuristics for dementia end-of-life care.

Type: Article
Title: A co-design process developing heuristics for practitioners providing end of life care for people with dementia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12904-016-0146-z
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12904-016-0146-z
Language: English
Additional information: An erratum to this article is available here: www.http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1528665/ Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Health Care Sciences & Services, Health Policy & Services, Dementia, End-of-life care, Palliative care, Co-design, Qualitative research, DECISION-MAKING, NOMINAL GROUP, QUALITY, HOMES, EXPERIENCE, PATHWAY, DISEASE, PATIENT, HEALTH, OLDER
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1507854
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